Juvenile delinquency can include everything from an eighth grader skipping school to a child shoplifting from a neighborhood retailer, to a 17-year-old committing murder. Whenever children under the age of 18 (minors) are accused of committing crimes, they are dealt with (at least initially) by the juvenile justice system in the state in which they live.
In most states, when children are accused of criminal acts, the case most often is addressed in a juvenile court and not in the adult criminal court system. All states, however, have provisions that allow or require the courts to treat juveniles in certain cases as adults.
When children, particularly teenagers, congregate in large groups, it tends to make adults nervous. It's also the cause of many curfew laws and ordinances that restrict juveniles from being in public places at certain hours. Curfew laws are very common, especially in cities, though some states have adopted statewide curfew laws as well. Not all cities or states have curfew laws or ordinances, and restrictions can differ significantly.
Here are common questions about legal problems for the child who runs away, the child’s parents, and any other adult who might become involved with the child by, for example, allowing the child to stay in their home.
All states criminalize theft and burglary, and a juvenile who commits these offenses can face charges similar to those an adult would face. The more serious the offense is, the more serious the penalties can be for the minor.
The crime of vandalism, sometimes called malicious mischief, criminal mischief, or property damage, occurs whenever someone intentionally damages property that belongs to someone else. Juvenile vandalism is any vandalism performed by a person under the age of 18.
Just like adults, juveniles who illegally possess drugs are in violation of the law. Minors under 18 will typically face their drug possession charges in juvenile delinquency court. Learn what penalties judges typically order in juvenile drug possession cases.
From Brian Wilson’s “Little Deuce Coupe” to the Boss’s “Pink Cadillac,” teenagers and automobiles have always gone together like Prince and platform shoes. Once those teenagers grow up and become parents, they find that the iconic American pairing of kids and cars can lead to a lot of heartache, including lawsuits.
Children who are witnesses to or victims of crimes may be ordered to testify in criminal cases. Generally, judges decide on a case-by-case basis whether a child is competent (qualified) to testify. But, even if a child is subpoenaed (ordered) to testify and found competent, there are steps the court